One of the few silver linings from this past year has been all of the incredible restaurant openings in LA. Chef Claudia Wanki opened the first California location (and second, ever) of her mother’s restaurant, Mama D’s African Cuisine, and is now serving a wide variety of Cameroonian dishes in Boyle Heights. Former Providence cook, Brandon Grey, combined fine dining, farm-fresh produce, and pizza to create his eponymous pop-up-turned-restaurant, Brandoni Pepperoni. And Guyanese chef Yonette Alleyne is serving some of the city’s best Caribbean food not from a restaurant kitchen, but out of a weekends-only stall at the Crenshaw Farmers’ Market with Caribbean Gourmet.
All of these places, in addition to the work being done by sommelier Rick Arlene at Fellow Traveler, Rashida Holmes at Bridgetown Roti, and the rest of the Black-owned restaurants in LA, make Los Angeles one of the best cities in the world to eat in. Read more about all of these spots below on our guide to LA’s New Black-Owned Restaurants you should be excited about.
Operating out of Crafted Kitchen commissary in the Arts District, Bridgetown Roti is run by chef Rashida Holmes, and specializes in Caribbean street food highlighting her Bajan heritage. The food of Barbados has many influences - including Indian, African, Creole, Irish, Portuguese, and British - and Bridgetown Roti’s menu shows off all of those cuisines and flavors. There’s the slightly spicy, turmeric-laced patty that comes stuffed with callaloo greens and crab meat, savory curry chicken roti wraps, or house dipping sauces that range from lime pepper tomatillo to Fresno mango masala.
The “Brandoni” behind this Carthay Circle pizza pop-up is Brandon Gray, a chef who used to cook at Providence and Trois Mec. It’s easy to see the fine-dining influences on these excellent pies. You’ll find topping options like house-made sausage, triple crème Brie, and Spanish octopus, and each pizza has a firm, blistered crust that texturally fall somewhere between a New York slice and a Neapolitan pie. Our favorite is the “Straight Up Menace” with house-made lamb sausage, wild arugula, and pickled peppers - it’s the ideal balance of savory and spice.
From perfectly-seasoned jerk chicken to an oxtail stew so tender that you’d think it was a film directed by Barry Jenkins, this Caribbean pop-up reminds us that some of the best meals in LA aren’t found in brick-and-mortar restaurants. Twice a week, Guyanese chef Yonette Alleyne sets up shop at the Crenshaw and Atwater Farmers’ Markets, selling prepackaged boxes of her excellent Caribbean food, complete with almost scientific at-home reheating instructions. Golden Jamaican patties come stuffed with spiced beef and wrapped up in a buttery, flaky crust. Jerk chicken is bathed in a heavenly dry rub, and rather than hitting us over the head with a sea of sauce, is lathered in allspice, black pepper, paprika, and nutmeg. And if her mac and cheese makes an appearance on the menu, you must order it. This occasional special is rich, creamy, and bathed in a thick layer of melted cheese, and you’ll want to get six containers of them, minimum. Even if you’re like us, and are developing late-onset lactose intolerance. Head to Caribbean Gourmet’s Instagram to place a preorder.
The name of the game at this new Boyle Heights restaurant is Cameroonian cuisine. Made by the namesake Mama’s daughter, Claudia Wanki, dishes range from jollof rice to goat meat pepper soup, and the strongest cup of coffee we’ve ever had. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of choices, but start with the slightly spicy ndole. It’s a dark green, casserole-like dish filled with stewed peanuts, spinach, and shrimp that you’ll want on days when you need some extra comfort after forgetting to mute yourself on Zoom or receiving (another) parking ticket. You should also get the Classic African Lunch - a beautiful, bright-red tomato stew paired with rice. It’s a quintessential West African Christmas food that tastes like a present to yourself, minus all of the papercuts and online gift wrapping tutorials. Available for takeout and delivery - call (213) 610-5322 to place an order.